In order to create a flawless training routine, one must follow seven simple and basic training principles.
These seven principles are commonly used by the U.S Army: Overload, Progression, Specificity, Reversibility, Maintenance, Variety, and Recovery.
These rules can and should be used in all forms of physical exercise.
In order to see improvements, muscles need to be exposed to a load greater than normal. Our body has a tendency to adapt very fast; therefore, in order to improve without plateauing, one must (gradually) increase the intensity, duration, and/or volume.
The Principle of Progression refers to the rate at which Overload is applied.
You do not want to abruptly overload without easing yourself into it – you may injure yourself. And you do not want to overload too slowly, because you may not see improvements. Just listen to your body, it knows best!
Exercise must be specific to the type of strength or improvements desired by the athlete (p.s we are all athletes in my books – if you exercise with a goal or desired outcome, then you are an athlete). Click here to see Training Types.
An example of specificity is, if you are a hockey player, you would want to train anaerobically with short bouts of high intensity; perhaps training specific to lateral movements, or specific to speed and power. Certain muscles required in the sport might be trained more heavily than others; like, if you are a volleyball player, you may want to train your triceps heavily, and practice plyometric jumping.
These three training principles overlap and are very much interconnected; they are also probably the most essential training principles for all forms of fitness and exercise.
All improvements and gains can be reversed if you do not train regularly. And the worst part is that it happens pretty rapidly – 30-40% of muscular endurance is lost in about 2 months, and only 10% of strength (phew!). However, on the bright side, muscle has memory, and once training resumes, gains can be regained rapidly. This is where the Principle of Maintenance comes in.
This is probably my favourite principle. In order to maintain your gains and avoid losing everything you worked so hard at, all you have to do is train 30% of what you were doing before – commonly known as the 1/3 Rule.
Just do 1/3 of what you were doing before and you won’t lose a thing!!!! AWESOME!
Like I said earlier, our body has a tendency to adapt pretty darn fast, so making sure that you are giving a little variety to all major muscle groups will prevent plateauing and boredom.
Cross Training is something we should all practice! Do something different as often as possible – go for a swim, or a hike, or a spinning class every now and again, to prevent your muscles from getting too used to your regular routine.
If you are weight training, then make sure you change your workout routine every 4-6 weeks!
The Principle of Recovery is one which is overlooked far too often; this not only applies to rest between sets, but rest days themselves, as well as proper nutrition.
If you read my article on Training Types, then you know the importance of rest between sets in order to reach your specific training goals.
Rest days are KEY to improvements. If we do not give our bodies at least one day a week to recuperate, then when will it get time to adapt and/or get bigger, better, or stronger?
If we continuously put load on them without a break, they will over stress and either go into a state of overtraining, or just not allow us to push as hard.
Active Rest days are great too. These are days where you do not have to do heavy exercise, rather, you go for a walk in the park, or a Hatha Yoga class – something that involves movement, but nothing too intense.
Nutrition for proper recovery is possibly one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects to proper training. I am sure you have read many posts of me emphasizing this particular principle.
Make sure you get enough protein and carbohydrates post workout in order to replenish diminished glycogen stores. If you do not get enough carbohydrates after your workout, I guaranty your next workout will be weak.
In fact, if you don’t believe me then set yourself up for an experiment:
train one muscle group hard, eat a good meal within an hour of your workout, and then record your volume and reps. Next time you train that same muscle group, do not have a good meal within an hour of your workout, perhaps wait 2-3 hours before you replenish yourself with carbs, and then record your improvements the next time you train that specific muscle group.
And finally, come back here and let me know if you think I am full of bogus or if I am full of wisdom 😛
Greek Yogurt is an awesome post-workout snack if you are short on time.
Toss it into your shake, or stir in some protein powder, fruit, and/or cereal, or just eat it plain right out of the container!
I wish we got this particular brand in Canada. I LOVE OKOIS YOGURT! Especially the Key Lime flavour. Yum!